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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘civil unrest’

Putin, Trump and the Endgame for Syria

A  couple of years back I stopped writing about Syria. It wasn’t a deliberate decision. It just seemed to happen. The routine nature of the horrific atrocities committed with relative abandon by both sides, with advantage seeming to swing first one way and then the other and then the other and then the other yet again seemed endless and wearisome. Everything that could be said seemed to have been said…and yet still it went on. Meanwhile, the Crimea, the Ukraine, the Scottish independence referendum, the Peshawar Massacre, Charlie Hebdo and other UnIsamic State atrocities, Jeremy Corbyn, the Brexit referendum, Jeremy Corbyn (again!), Donald Trump…. So many other things have happened in those 2-3 years and so many of them ‘closer to home’…and, as the apocryphal ‘McClurg’s Law’ postulates: the more something is closer to you (racially, nationalistically, culturally), the more newsworthy it is (Stephen Moore, Steve Chapman & Dave Aiken, 2009). Thus, it is understandable (in some senses, at least) that Syria went ‘off the radar’ at times not only for myself but for many other ‘thinkers’ and much of the Western media. Now, though, as what seems to be the final, heartbreaking agonies of Aleppo are so grim and apparently so decisive, they actually break through the news barrier and Syria becomes… Read More

Why Brexit makes Me SO ANGRY!!

Carol Thornton is a Green Party councillor in North Lincolnshire. Way back in 2005 she came on one of my training courses in Hull. Our paths haven’t really crossed since but we’re Facebook ‘friends’ and occasionally comment on each other’s postings. Earlier this month Carol called one of my postings about Boris ‘Liar’ Johnson and some of the more dreadful economic consequences of a ‘hard Brexit’ “more overtly political than your usual. Whatever happened to the Spiral?” It was a good challenge that really took me aback. I pointed out that my last 4 Integrated SocioPsychology Blog posts had been concerned with the EU referendum and the development of Brexit. However, I conceded: “I struggle to be dispassionate and objective on the EU issue because Brexit is going to be such a social and economic disaster and #traitormay is just ploughing on regardless. It’s hard to be dispassionate and objective when you feel personally and immediately threatened by something. And I feel personally and immediately threatened by Brexit. I envision living out my old age in poverty because of what these moronic zealots are doing to our country. I am VERY ANGRY!!” When you feel “personally and immediately threatened”, the emotional… Read More

So the Turkeys did vote for Christmas?!?

Well,  obviously it remains to be seen just how much damage Brexit does to the UK – socially, economically and politically. But the initial consequences do not look at all good: Britain’s credit rating downgraded, the pound struggling to get much above the rock bottom it hit on Monday, up and down (but mostly down) stocks and shares (with markets right around the world affected), the banks and many big companies drawing up relocation plans (with consequent loss of jobs), a mooted 25% of companies declaring a freeze on hiring staff, a significant increase in incidents of racial and ethnic abuse, momentum building for a second Scottish independence referendum and Martin McGuinness calling for a referendum on whether the island of Ireland should be reunited. The ‘serious’ newspapers and internet news sites are full of dire predictions of far worse to come. As the so-called ‘Project Fear’ appears to be turning rapidly into reality, it would be foolish indeed to say blandly everything is going to be OK, as Boris Johnson was doing on Monday morning. The pound and the markets were stable he stated an hour or so before the pound hit a 31-year low. Everything is not OK. Not in the slightest. The UK faces an existential… Read More

The Trouble with Tribalism…

7 July 2016 …is that most Western politicians don’t get it. It’s seen as something relevant to Pre-Modern ‘primitive’ communities but not to Modern societies. And, when Western-style one person/one (secret) vote Democracy is offered to tribal communities as part of the Modernisation process, so many Western leaders seem genuinely perplexed at the relative lack of enthusiasm for it. The Americans in particular seemed baffled that attempts to embed Democracy in the wake of their invasions of the Noughties produced the markedly-corrupt government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and the corrupt and overtly-sectarian government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. A Do-It-Yourself attempt to introduce Democracy in Egypt produced a government (of the Islamic Brotherhood) so unacceptable to the urban middle classes and the army that a ‘sort-of coup’ was instigated, followed by rigged elections, to return the country to neo-military rule as before. Highly-controversial and bitterly-contested ‘democratic’ elections following Libya’s revolutionary civil war resulted in 2 – and arguably 3? – would-be governments claiming the right to rule with their various militia, often organised on sectarian or tribal lines, slugging it out in a patchy, second civil war. Anyone versed in the Gravesian approach could have told the Western planners and the internet-inspired urban ‘democrats’ of Egypt that their campaigns to introduce Western-style Democracy would hit trouble. (See:… Read More

Leadership – a SocioPsychological Perspective

Updated: 26 May 2016 What makes a successful leader successful? is a question that appears to have vexed politicians and philosophers from the beginnings of civilisation. Certainly, the number of books and articles on leadership by ‘management gurus’ and social psychologists since the end of World War II indicates an ongoing fascination with the topic and, arguably, a vital need to understand the nature of leadership. Peter F Drucker, Stephen Covey, Warren Bennis, Howard Gardner, James MacGregor Burns, John William Gardner, John Kotter and Peter Senge are just a handful of the heavyweight names who have contributed high-profile books on the subject. One unequivocal key factor which has emerged from the multitude of investigations into ‘leadership’ is that leadership and management are not the same thing. Drucker (1967) was perhaps the first to say this, articulating: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Covey (p101, 1989) provides an illuminating example to illustrate this point: “…envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the producers, the problem-solvers. They’re cutting their way through the undergrowth, clearing it out. The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle… Read More

Social Change #2

PART 2 Lower Left Quadrant and zeitgeist The Lower Left is also where we need to consider how zeigeist morphs and its influence on the ‘climate’ for social change. As discussed earlier, the 1950s was a deeply conservative time in the United States. Stephen Perrin & Christopher Spencer (1980), in trying to explain their failure to replicate the results of Solomon Asch’s lines experiment (1951), attributed the difference in conformity to the conservatism of 1950s America as against the liberalism of England in 1980. They particularly pointed out the effects of ‘McCarthyism’, the strong ‘all-American’, anti-Communist hysteria across 1950s US which made many people frightened of being different for fear of being branded ‘un-American’. In contrast, having gone through, first, ‘hippie culture’ and then the ‘punk revolution’, Britain at the start of the 1980s was a much more liberal, anything-goes/express-yourself kind of place than it had been. Support for Perrin & Spencer comes from Nigel Nicholson, Steven Cole & Thomas Rocklin (1985) who found a modest but quite definite level of conformity among British students. Nicholson, Cole & Rocklin attributed the increase in conformity to the greater sense of national social cohesion which developed from Britain’s engagement in the Falklands War.… Read More

When BLUE fails, call for Clint!

Updated: 25 August 2016 For those of us who were raised in the 1960s and 1970s, Clint Eastwood was arguably the ultimate ‘big screen tough guy’. Never impossibly-muscled like the generation of ‘action men’ who came after him – the likes of Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sylvester Stallone – and rarely prone to the ridiculous levels of single-handed mass slaughter commonplace in their movies, Eastwood mostly played far more believable characters. And, because they were far more believable, Eastwood’s anti-heroes exuded a far greater sense of menace. Though Eastwood has long since moved on to become acclaimed as a director and filmmaker of quality, character-driven films with strong narratives, on the occasion this now rather-old actor gets his fists flailing, he is still believable as someone who would very willingly do you serious harm. Periodically there are still Eastwood seasons on TV, usually built around one or more outings of his 2 main anti-heroes, the mysterious ‘Man with No Name’ gunslinger and the homicidal maverick cop ‘Dirty Harry’. That Eastwood can still command a TV season of his films, when most of his contemporaries are forgotten by all but the most devoted, is testament to the enduring power of the myth Eastwood… Read More

Islamification: Europe’s Challenge

Relaunched: 28 November 2015 This feature was originally published as ‘Islamification: Britain’s Challenge’ in 9 June 2013. It is now updated, expanded and relaunched under its revised title to reflect the dramatic changes that have taken place since the original publication and to add more of a European dimension. Islamification is a highly-emotive word. For me personally, it instantly conjures up images of English Defence League (EDL) demonstrators with their ‘No more mosques!’ placards But Islamification should be a word that stirs the emotions, one way or the other. By definition (WordSense.eu), it is the process of converting a region or a society to Islam. If being in a society that is taken over by Islamists (political supporters of fundamentalist Islam) and introduces Sharia law is something you would welcome, then impending Islamification should give you comfort and possibly even joy. If, like me, you enjoy many of the freedoms (and indulgences) of living in what is increasingly a post-Christian, secular society, then Islamification may fill you with apprehension. In an Islamified Europe, non-Muslims would be ‘dhimmi’: second class citizens. So…is Islamification happening? If it is, how does Europe and, particularly for me, Britain deal with it? (Or does it deal with us?!?) Islam is… Read More

Underclass: the Excreta of Capitalism

Updated: 15 September 2016 Though records indicate there have always been a small minority of criminals and ‘wastrels’ who formed an ‘underclass’ at the bottom of whatever social stratification any society had at whatever stage in its history, it was Charles Murray (1989) who first identified this social class as an emerging and important factor in contemporary British society. Murray says of the term: “By ‘underclass’, I do not mean people who are merely poor, but people who are at the margins of society, unsocialised and often violent. The chronic criminal is part of the underclass, especially the violent chronic criminal. But so are parents who mean well but who cannot provide for themselves, who give nothing back to the neighbourhood, and whose children are the despair of the teachers who have to deal with them…. When I use the term ‘underclass’ I am indeed focusing on a certain type of poor person defined not by his condition – eg: long term unemployed – but by his deplorable behaviour in response to that condition – eg: unwilling to take jobs that are available to him.” Those long-term unemployed who fraudulently claim benefits while doing ‘black market’ jobs, the addict who deals… Read More

Social Change

Updated: 15 March 2016 Social change means some aspect of society, culture or sub-culture changes. The changes may be overt and dramatic and obvious to everyone or they may be more discreet and less obvious…until people come to a realisation society around them has already changed. An example of this is the attitude of the general public in the UK towards welfare and benefits. As Elizabeth Clery shows in the results of the 2012 British Social Attitudes survey – see graphic above – there is an increased perception that people on welfare are over-reliant on their benefits and that cutting benefits won’t harm too many people too badly. The following 2 years’ surveys  showed only the most marginal reversal (3%) of this trend (Sarah Alcock, 2015) and the election in 2015  of a Tory government determined to cut even more could be seen as voter approval of these strategies. This is actually a major attitudinal shift in a country that, for many years, had largely prided itself on a generous attitude to welfare. Yet these more subtle changes in public perception often only become news when surveys like the British Social Attitudes annual survey pick them up. Of course, sometimes a slow growth in… Read More